Let the bidding begin for youth arts in Coquitlam

Coquitlam’s Place des Arts is ready to launch its biggest fundraiser of the year, with a goal to bring in $5,000 for youth arts programs.

Unwind for two days at a waterfront resort on a private island near Ucluelet. Sip cocktails and dine with three friends at a chef’s table in Coquitlam. Or kick off your shoes with your family on a new trampoline set up in the backyard.

These are some of the options available at your fingertips when you bid in an online auction that opens next Saturday.

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Coquitlam’s Place des Arts is ready to launch its biggest fundraiser of the year, with a goal to bring in $5,000 for youth arts programs.

Replacing the Impromptu-themed gala, which ran for the past five years, the two-week silent auction mirrors the Ballet BC online program held in the spring that uses a software called 32auctions.com.

“We were very happy with the results of Impromptu,” Joan McCauley, Place des Arts’ executive director, told The Tri-City News last week, “but we wanted to try something new. We wanted to make it easy for people to donate to our centre while also benefitting with a great prize.”

About 50 items will be up for grabs ranging from a roundtrip VIA Rail getaway to Jasper — one of the big items at Impromptu, a package valued at $1,328 — to a one-pound gift box from Charlie’s Chocolate Factory in Port Coquitlam, worth about $32.

This is how it will work: From 9 a.m. on Oct. 15 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 28, you can log into 32auctions.com/placedesarts and submit your entry. And if someone outbids you, you receive a notification email. That then prompts you to reconsider to go higher before the deadline, said Casey McCarthy, Place des Arts’ resource development and volunteer co-ordinator.

The silent bidding create competition and excitement, thereby raising the stakes (not to mention the fundraising tally for the Maillardville arts hub) for bidders, she said.

McCarthy said the centre didn’t want to extend the online auction past two weeks as staff wanted to keep the interest fresh.

“Everyone is intrigued with the concept,” McCauley said. “We are hoping for a high engagement because it’s so easy to participate.”

McCauley said the need to boost external funding matches the demand for more programs at Place des Arts: Registration continues to climb for all programs — visual arts, music, dance, etc. — and especially for youth. 

Over the past three years, Impromptu proceeds have aided hundreds of children through such subsidized programs as the city’s Get Connected, Get Active as well as Art a la Carte and ArtReach, a summer outreach camp for at-risk kids.

According to its 2014 annual report — its latest document available — Place des Arts saw 94,000 visits by students and the public in that year for classes and special events.

Of its revenues, 62% are self-earned (i.e., through programs, facility rentals and sales) while the rest comes in the form of grants from the city (36%), sponsorships and donations.

McCauley said she and board members are looking forward to the finalization of the city’s arts and culture strategy, a component of the municipality’s new parks and recreation master plan. 

“The need for arts programs in Coquitlam is very strong,” she said, “and all children should have the right to an arts education.”

Go to 32auctions.com/placedesarts to create an account before the online auction opens Saturday. Call 604-664-1636 (ext. 36) or email cmcarthy@placedesarts.ca.



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